Sunday, January 10, 2016

Chicago Marathon 2015-Race Recap

Shirts and bibs, all ready to go
I had planned on running the Chicago Marathon last year in 2014, but due to work scheduling I ended up having to travel the weekend of the Marathon.  My wife and my brother in law both ended up running in 2014 and had a great time, you can read about that run here on her blog.  Since, I didn't get to run I contacted the race directors and they were nice enough to allow me to transfer my registration to the 2015 race.  I didn't think it would be as easy as it was but a few emails later and I was rolled right in without needing to do the whole lottery process again.  My wife decided to try her luck with the lottery again so she entered and got a bib for the second year in a row!  It doesn't seem like the lottery is all that competitive, after all, it looks like we have gotten a number every time somebody I know of has tried.  So with that here goes for the race recap of my second marathon this year.


The Train up:

Kim and I used the same standard train up plan with the First method of training with the "three quality runs"  although this time it was a little different.  We both raced in the Pittsburgh Triathlon about 8 weeks prior to this race so we had a sort of hybrid triathlon/marathon training plan for the first 8 weeks and then a different plan for the last 8 weeks.  Overall it was pretty successful, I had planned on running a 4 hour marathon and I tried to tailor my training towards that, but trying to work full time and raise a 2 year old while race training started to get too much.  Towards the end of the train-up I changed my goal to a 4:30.   Although that four hour marathon is somewhere in my future I'm sure....

Pre-Race:

Marathon Expo
We learned from our past mistakes and got to Chicago early for the expo.  We flew in Friday morning and were on one of the first shuttles to the event center that held the expo.  A note to those picking hotels, the expo and the start/finish lines are not close to each other.  We picked a hotel close to the start/finish and opted for one of the many shuttles bringing people to and from the expo.  We got to the expo shortly after it opened and found it to be one of the best expo's we've seen.  Overall a great experience.  Kim said that last year was too crowded to see much, but since we got there pretty early and on a Friday we avoided most of the crowds and had the chance to see all of the vendor

booths that we wanted.  There were tons and tons of different booths handing out all of the normal bits and pieces of race nutrition as well as a bunch of local running companies.  They also had a few really cool displays up for the Marathon itself which included a giant CHICAGO that you could write on, that same sign made it out onto the course right near the end when you needed a boost.  Pretty cool if you ask me.  After we left the expo we headed back to the hotel and spent some time out in the city sightseeing.  We were staying at the Hyatt Centric The Loop hotel which was located pretty close to everything we wanted to see.  There are hundreds of hotels in the vicinity but this one was great for the price and location.  We were organized enough also to have made reservations weeks in advance for a few restaurants which made meal selection a little easier when you are jockeying with 45,000 other runners for a pasta dinner the night before the race.
The Morning of the race was pretty easy, we woke up around 5am and ate a quick breakfast at the hotel before making the trek down to the race start.  We made our way following the hoards of other runners to our corrals without any problems at all.  Despite the fact that there were more people than I had ever seen for a race the whole process went pretty smoothly, they even wanded us all down with metal detectors, but it didn't seem to slow it down that much at all.

The Race:

Kim and I both started in Corral E but despite the crowds it only took us about 18 min to get to the start after the gun went off.  We moved right along and though the course was pretty crowded it wasn't unbearably crowded.  Our plan was to run together for the first 13 miles and then depending on how I was feeling I would either pull ahead or not.  Kim planned to run approx 10 min miles the whole time so it worked out pretty good for us.  The first few miles seemed to fly by, we seemed to be passing mile marker after mile marker and before I knew it we had already knocked out the first 10k.  The crowd support was incredible too with great crowds along nearly the entire course.  Right around 6 miles or so Kim's legs didn't really want to run anymore and she was struggling.  It was compounded bythe fact that her watch (a Garmin Fenix 3) had all but become useless in the city.  It kept posting crazy times, like 4 min miles followed by 12 min miles it was really all over the place.  Kim relied on me to keep pace for her because for some reason my Garmin 310xt didn't seem to
have nearly as many problems.  From miles 6 to about 17 Kim continued to struggle and I kept trying to keep her in the race (while also trying to keep myself in it).  But at mile 17 I looked back to find her and I had lost her in the crowds.  From there on out it was a pretty straight forward run.  I kept up the 10 min mile pace for a few more miles, but then as it always seems to happen to me, mile 20 hit.  I seem to have this mental block with mile 20 where once I step over that line I lose all ability to run normally.  I honestly think its more mental than anything else but from mile 20-26.2 I had an inner struggle.  I started walking through water stops and running in between and my times gradually slowed down into the 11s.  Not the kind of run I was looking for.  But finally I was into the last mile and... with the finish line in sight... I started throwing up.  I mean really my body couldn't hold out for another half mile?  O well.  I finished with a final time of 4:34:19.  Not a ground breaking time, and not what I was looking for but a PR nonetheless.

Overall Impression:

I would highly recommend this race.  It is one of the world Marathon Majors and for good reason.  There is a lot to love about this race, it is well organized, well supported, and well attended.  The city does a great job of getting everything in place.  And, to boot, the course is flat, the flattest I have seen on a Marathon course.  The Expo was a great event and the post race party was pretty good too and in a good location with plenty of space for people to sit down after the run.  The swag was pretty good too, I liked the medal they handed out at the end and the shirts are pretty good.  The shirts are the nike dri-fit tech t-shirts but the design on them I am a little ambivalent about.  Not my favorite shirt but not the worst by far.  Overall a great experience!

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